Join co-curators Rachel Bohlmann (American History Librarian) and Jean McManus (Catholic Studies Librarian) for a guided tour Thursdays at 12:30 pm through March (excluding Spring Break, March 16), and learn more about American Catholic history held in the library’s Rare Books and Special Collections and ND Archives. Tours will last up to an hour.
To schedule a class or group tour, please contact Rachel Bohlmann via email or phone: (574) 631-1575.
Spotlight Exhibits: Bram Stoker’s Lecture on Abraham Lincoln and The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook, ca. 1634-1645.
As she read through seven or eight albums, Jenifer realized that they not only gave her, as she states in an email interview with Special Collections, “a really good look into the lives of young women in the 19th century—especially how their friendships played out”—but that they also provided unexpected access to the young women writers themselves. Her close reading of the texts told her “a lot about young women’s friendships,” but more interestingly, it revealed an interesting preoccupation these women had with “ideas of eternity and things that are everlasting.”
Given the dearth of scholarship on friendship albums, Jenifer’s project is a welcome addition. Her research, in particular, expands upon a topic that two historians, Anya Jabour and Catherine Kelly, according to Jenifer, only briefly mention, namely the enduring nature of friendship. During her analysis of the albums, Jenifer examined the messages friends left to the album’s owner as well as the physical artifacts themselves.
One particularly fruitful investigation centered around the album of Harriet Curry. Jenifer noticed that a note, “drowned in Lake Erie,” after an entry by Abby Jane Williams differed in color from the ink used in the entry. This began Jenifer’s search to verify if Williams did drown in Lake Erie and to identify who wrote that note. Jenifer recounts:
After some online searching using the search terms “Abby Jane Williams” and “Lake Erie,” I found a book titled Lloyd’s Steamboat Directory, and Disasters on the Western Waters (published 1856) that detailed the account the burning of the steamer Erie in 1841. Among the listed dead was a Mrs. Giles Williams. I was later able to corroborate that this was the same Williams who had left an entry in Harriet Curry’s friendship album by locating her record on ancestry.com and findagrave.com, which confirmed that Abby Jane’s husband was indeed named Giles. Giles apparently survived the boat’s burning.
Still to be resolved was who wrote the note. After further analysis of the album’s contents, Jenifer concluded that “drowned in Lake Erie” was written by Harriet Curry herself. This was in line with similar notes in the diary “denot[ing] when one of her friends had gotten married, moved away, or died.” Jenifer further explains, “This, to me, showed that even after years had passed, Harriet still cared about her friends. Her friendship lasted forever, just like many of her friends wrote in her friendship album.”
The Curry example was but one among numerous pieces of evidence that Jenifer located in the albums she consulted to argue that these albums contained an “exhortation to . . . trust in everlasting eternal things,” rather than “temporal things that would eventually pass away.” She identified that there were certain everlasting qualities valued by these women; these were “God, prayer, and friendship itself.” Her research brought her to the conclusion that these young women writers:
valued the everlasting over the ephemeral. Transitory things such as youth, beauty, and suffering were dismissed in favor of enduring communion with God and friends. Friendship, of course, was the ultimate enduring joy to these women, and the survival of their friendship albums through to the present day proves the unending nature of their affections.
Jenifer Blouin earned her BA in History from Bethel College in Mishawaka, Indiana in 2015 and expects to earn her MA in Public History from Western Michigan University in December 2017. Her research focuses on the historical significance of cemeteries as sites of memory and cultural resources. More generally, Jenifer is interested in gender and women’s history.
Special Collections thanks Jenifer for her time and for sharing the results of her research that brought the friendship albums in our collections to light. We also appreciate the review she wrote of our department for the American Historical Association’s Archives Wiki.
The two fencers in Domenico Angelo’s L’Ecole des armes saluted, closing Ingenious Exercises, and welcomed Matthew Carey and the transatlantic story narrated in “Preserving the Steadfastness of Your Faith”: Catholics in the Early American Republic. The new Spring exhibit features printed books, newspapers, and pamphlets that document the flow of ideas about Catholicism between the United States and Europe.
Bringing coherence to the flurry of ideas represented by the diverse artifacts on display are Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus. Rachel and Jean (U.S. History & American Studies librarian and Catholic Studies librarian, respectively) teamed up to explore what our collections held on Catholic America. As they began this seemingly daunting task, they soon realized they first needed to address what exactly Catholic literature in America was and what it meant to be a Catholic in America.
For Jean, these questions stemmed from Notre Dame’s 2014 acquisition of the The Holy Bible printed in 1790 in Philadelphia by Matthew Carey, more commonly referred to here [on campus? at Notre Dame?] as the Badin Bible. This bible is a copy of the first authorized Catholic bible in English and was translated from the Latin Vulgate in 1568 by members of the English College, a Catholic seminary in Douai in northern France. Its publisher, Matthew Carey, was an Irish Catholic who emigrated to Philadelphia. Known for standing against the British Parliament in defense of Irish nationalism and Catholic emancipation, Carey became a successful Catholic publisher in the U.S. Jean questioned what it meant to be a publisher who was Catholic and, more broadly, what it meant to be Catholic in America.
For Rachel, a common theme that emerged among these sources was their transatlantic identity. As she and Jean chose particular stories to tell, each story connected to Britain or Europe, often in multiple ways. These ties could be in the form of refugees as in the case of Stephen Badin who fled Revolutionary France or ideas such as the pamphlets that circulated between the US, Europe, and Britain and, sometimes, the ties involved both refugees and ideas.
Turning to the principal Catholic Studies reference book, Wilfrid Parson’s Early Catholic Americana, they compared Special Collections’ holdings to the works listed in Parson and selected most of the items on exhibit based upon their inclusion in this work. Their selections represent American Catholicism defined by early printed works that include books, pamphlets, newspapers, official reports, and maps. What emerges is a six-chapter, multinational story beginning in the 1780s and running through the 1840s of early Catholicism in America and its ties to European Catholicism.
The exhibit runs January 16 – August 11, 2017. Weekly tours led by Rachel and Jean on Thursdays begin at 12:30 and will be offered through the end of March. Class tour are also available. Please contact Rachel to schedule a tour.
Upcoming Exhibit Events
“Saint Elizabeth Seton: A Reading Life”
Catherine O’Donnell, Professor of History, Arizona State University
March 22, 2017, 4:00 pm, Special Collections
Historian and former Cushwa Center Fellow Catherine O’Donnell’s talk explores Elizabeth Ann Seton’s spiritual journey as it intersected with Catholic history during the early American Republic. O’Donnell is the author of “John Carroll and the Origins of an American Catholic Church, 1783-1815” and Men of Letters in the Early Republic: Cultivating Forums of Citizenship (2008). She is currently completing her second book, Elizabeth Seton: a Life.
“21st Century Digital Approaches to Rethinking 19th Century Catholic Print”
Kyle Roberts, Professor of Public History & New Media and Director of the Center for Textual Studies & Digital Humanities, Loyola University Chicago
June 1, 2017, 2:00 pm, Special Collections
This talk explores the ways in which new digital humanities projects, such as the Jesuit Libraries Provenance Project, have allowed us to recover the central importance of print to American Catholics. Roberts is also the author of Evangelical Gotham: Religion and the Making of New York City, 1783-1860 (2016).
“Paying tribute to the generations of African Americans who struggled with adversity to achieve full citizenship in American society” – We join the Library of Congress, National Archives and Records Administration, National Endowment for the Humanities, National Gallery of Art, National Park Service, Smithsonian Institution, and United States Holocaust Museum to observe African American History Month.
In this 1894 poster, the Democratic Party of Georgia felt the warm breath of third party competition on the back of its neck. The unnamed “Third Party” was the People’s Party of the United States, also known as the Populists.
The Populists were established in 1892 by a coalition of famers in the South and Midwestern plains states who believed that eastern banks and railroads, supported by government policies, exploited them with expensive credit and transportation. They were joined by industrial workers who criticized the major parties for being controlled by corporate and financial elites. In the 1892 election Populists won three governorships and 15 Congressional seats. It was the period’s most significant political insurgency.
In Georgia, the Populist wave had captured the allegiance of so many white Democrats by 1894 that the balance of political power had shifted to African Americans. If they swung their support from the minority Republican Party to the People’s Party, Democrats would lose control.
Panicked Democrats cravenly released broadsides like this one, which attempted to browbeat African American voters away from the People’s Party by threatening less public support for their children’s education. Despite such heavy-handed tactics, many African American farmers in Georgia supported Populism, as black farmers did across the South.
Georgia Democrats grimly hung onto power by mobilizing white voters against “Negro supremacy,” intimidating black voters, and outright vote fraud. Although Populism’s appeal had increased in rural states like Georgia in 1894, nationally the party lost ground. By the 1896 presidential election, the Democratic Party shrewdly absorbed part of the Populist’s platform and the agrarian revolt was checked.
Special Collections invites everyone to visit during African American History month to view or conduct research on materials such as the 1894 poster featured above. For more information, please contact us.
Mary Huntington Morgan was the daughter of Daniel Nash Morgan (1844-1931), Treasurer of the United States during Grover Cleveland’s administration. Her diary from 1896 (MSN/MN 8009-1-B) recounts the life of this young, single socialite in the nation’s capital.
She narrates the demands of such a life—lunches and teas, dinners and dances, theater performances and lectures, ceremonial appearances at government events and diplomatic receptions. Yet, Mary also pens her personal endeavors, weaving through her music lessons and letter writing to her fondness for reading.
This semester (Spring 2017), the department piloted a new project to facilitate the diary’s use by a class in the Notre Dame History department, the United States’ Gilded Age. Collaborating with the professor, Special Collections digitized and made the Mary Huntington Morgan diary available in the Hesburgh Library’s new digital artifact viewer. In addition to being able to work with the physical object in Special Collections, students now have the opportunity to study the diary more extensively using the digital artifact, not only reading its contents but also learning skills such as how to transcribe text. The digitized artifact has made it possible for a class of 15 students to work on the same item simultaneously and to discuss their work and the diary itself in their own classroom.
With these words, John Carroll, head of the fledgling Catholic Church in the United States and future bishop, encouraged his fellow Catholics in 1784. Catholics held a precarious position in the Early Republic despite having gained more freedom to practice their religion after the Revolution. By the 1840s, in the face of increasing sectarian-driven violence, Catholicism had taken firm institutional root.
This exhibition displays examples of American Catholicism expressed through (mostly) printed texts from 1783 through the early 1840s. They include the earliest Catholic bibles published by Mathew Carey, and editions of Thomas à Kempis’ The Imitation of Christ used and produced in the United States; polemical pamphlets with sexual and political subtexts that flew back and forth across the Atlantic; no-holds-barred dueling sectarian newspapers; books and pamphlets created in reaction to mob violence against the Ursuline convent school near Boston; and official reports that mapped the Church’s growth and growing pains.
This exhibition is curated by Rachel Bohlmann and Jean McManus and is open to the public through August 11, 2017.
Recalling his youth growing up in Hannibal, Missouri, Clemens recounts hunting with his uncle and cousins. A lousy shot, the young Clemens wouldn’t be embarrassed in front of deceitful mamma-turkey. Read on to find out what happened.
Behind the design of Ingenious Exercises is George Rugg, the curator for Americana and the Joyce Sports collections. As curator, George is responsible for the acquisition, care, and interpretation of collections related to the history and cultural heritage of the United States as well as sports and physical culture. He identifies and acquires materials available on the market or from private collectors that relate to existing collection strengths in Special Collections. Once these materials arrive, George ensures that all of the documentation is complete for the library to take physical and intellectual control of the materials. He assesses the condition and works with Hesburgh Library’s conservation staff to determine if treatment is needed to prevent deterioration and to address any special needs to protect the materials. George also researches and interprets the collections in order to help students and visitors understand the significance of the materials, show relationships between them, or contextualize them within our cultural heritage. The main ways he shares this knowledge with students and the public are through teaching classes and by designing exhibits.
Also on current display is a spotlight exhibit featuring an important journal George recently acquired that enhances the Colonial Manuscript collection. The Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Notebook contains the sermon notes of Nathaniel Rogers (1598-1655), a Puritan minister who emigrated from England to Massachusetts in 1636. George offers visitors an opportunity to view this rare work while sharing his research on and curatorial concerns for the book. He includes Cotton Mather’s providential history of 17th century New England, the Magnalia Christi Americana (1702), opened to the beginning of Mather’s eulogy of Rogers which provides what little information is known about the minister’s life. George also describes the original condition of the sermon book and the treatments performed by Hesburgh Libraries Preservation to stabilize the notebook so that researchers may safely use it.
For each of these exhibits, George selects materials from Special Collections’ holdings that not only have significance but also capture the imagination. Selected items might represent important works in a bibliographic tradition such as Nicolaes Petter’s Klare Onderrichtinge der voortreffelijcke Worstel-konst (1674). This work is an illustrated self-defense manual that represents one of the finest examples in the tradition of illustrated martial arts manuals, a tradition traceable to a German fencing manual from the 1320s. In the case of the business records of the Birmingham Black Barons, the records provide a look into the history of American baseball in the era of segregation. They document financial transactions between the team and its players during the years when the Black Barons were full members of the Negro National League and before financial pressures generated by the Great Depression forced the team to return to the Negro Southern League in 1931.
George’s current exhibits, Ingenious Exercises andThe Nathaniel Rogers Sermon Book, will be on display through December 2016. He will also be giving public tours of Ingenious Exercises on Wednesdays at noon during October and November.
Vicksburg, Mississippi’s most famous Independence Day, July 4, 1863, marked the surrender of its Confederate forces to Union Major General U. S. Grant during the American Civil War. After a 47-day siege of the city, which sat atop a high bluff on the Mississippi River, Grant accepted a negotiated truce from Vicksburg’s Confederate Lt. General John C. Pemberton on July 3. He surrendered the next day. This victory marked a turning point in the war. The Confederacy lost control of the Mississippi River as well as access between the eastern Confederacy and the Trans-Mississippi Confederacy of Arkansas, Texas, and Louisiana. At nearly the same moment, Union forces defeated Confederates at Gettysburg, a loss for Robert E. Lee’s Army of Northern Virginia that decisively checked Confederate encroachment northward.
J.M. Swords, publisher of the Vicksburg Daily Citizen, fled the city but left the July 2, 1863 edition partially finished on his press. Occupying Union soldiers completed it with an addendum dated July 4. Paper supplies in the besieged city, however, were long depleted so they printed the newspaper on what they had—wallpaper. Swords had earlier resorted to the same measure, creating so-called “wall-paper editions” on June 16, 18, 20, 27, 30, and July 2.
The last line of the July 4 note proved correct: the paper became a valuable curiosity. More than 30 reproductions have been identified, including this one. The Library of Congress holds two originals and two reproductions and offers guidance on identifying copies. Although of little monetary value, reproductions nevertheless are significant historical documents. They surfaced very soon after the war, probably as souvenirs at soldiers’ reunions.
Although many copies of its famous Fourth of July newspaper exist, after its defeat and surrender the city of Vicksburg did not officially celebrate Independence Day until 1945.
When Congress declared the last Monday in May a national holiday in 1968, it standardized the many different ways that Americans had remembered our war dead since the Civil War (1861-1865). Defining “Decoration Day,” as Memorial Day was first known after that war, became part of a larger cultural and political conflict about how to remember the Civil War itself.
Writer, poet, journalist, and veteran Ambrose Bierce shaped this post-war conversation. As a nineteen year old he joined the Ninth Indiana regiment and served nearly the entire conflict. Bierce later settled in California as a journalist and writer, contributing social criticism and satire to the San Francisco Examiner and other publications.
Of the many former soldiers who put their wartime experiences into literature, Bierce probably had seen the most combat. It never left him. By the 1880s, when American culture was awash in sentimental and nostalgic literature about the Civil War and slavery, Bierce’s stories stood apart. He despised war sentiment and, as one historian put it, “never stopped recollecting the corpses.” (David Blight, Race and Reunion, 2001, p. 248) Bierce’s realism about war’s horrors, most notably expressed in “An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge” and “Chickamauga,” was nearly unrivaled in his generation and distinguished him from other writers until after World War I.
In addition to the finely-produced first edition of collected short stories featured here, Tales of Soldiers and Civilians, Hesburgh Library holds every first edition work by Bierce, thanks to the generosity of two university benefactors, John Bennett Shaw and Walter Trohan.